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"This is not a surprise based on oral history and other archaeological finds, and it was just a matter of time before we had a good example of Eurasian metal that had been traded," said H. Kory Cooper, an associate professor of anthropology, who led the artifacts' metallurgical analysis. "We believe these smelted alloys were made somewhere in Eurasia and traded to Siberia and then traded across the Bering Strait to ancestral Inuits people, also known as Thule culture, in Alaska. Locally available metal in parts of the Arctic, such as native metal, copper and meteoritic and telluric iron were used by ancient Inuit people for tools and to sometimes indicate status. Two of the Cape Espenberg items that were found - a bead and a buckle -- are heavily leaded bronze artifacts. Both are from a house at the site dating to the Late Prehistoric Period, around 1100-1300 AD, which is before sustained European contact in the late 18th century."
Metal artifacts are rarely found because they were usually used until they were worn down and, therefore, not well preserved at field sites.
"These items are remarkable due to curation and preservation issues," Cooper said.
The cylindrical bead and a fragment of a small buckle strap-guide are composed of leaded bronze, which is an alloy of copper, tin and lead. The fragmented leather strap on the buckle provided radiocarbon dating, and the item was dated to 500-800 years old, although the metal could be older.
"The belt buckle also is considered an industrial product and is an unprecedented find for this time," Cooper said. "It resembles a buckle used as part of a horse harness that would have been used in north-central China during the first six centuries before the Common Era."
Now another newly analyzed object from the University of Colorado-led Cape Espenberg dig is providing more evidence of prehistoric trade or contacts between the residents of Northwest Alaska and their neighbors across the Bering Strait. A flake of obsidian, a glassy volcanic rock, found at the site has been traced to Russia's Chukotka peninsula. Obsidian, formed from molten rock that hardens too quickly to form crystals, carries the chemical fingerprint of its source. "It's one of the things that we can very definitely say came from a specific place on the planet," said Jeff Rasic, a National Park Service archaeologist who analyzed the artifact. "We can say that this one came from Chukotka."
originally posted by: ShadowChatter
the stuff could of just as easily been washed ashore from tsunami debris or various other things the tide brings in, surprising there isn't more of the stuff
There was high demand for the furs that the Aleut provided from hunting. In 1811, in order to obtain more of the commercially valuable otter pelts, a party of Aleut hunters traveled to the coastal island of San Nicolas, near the Alta California-Baja California border. The locally resident Nicoleño nation sought a payment from the Aleut hunters for the large number of otters being killed in the area. Disagreement arose, turning violent; in the ensuing battle, the Aleut killed nearly all the Nicoleño men. Together with high fatalities from European diseases, the Nicoleños suffered so much from the loss of their men that by 1853, only one living Nicoleña person remained. (See Juana Maria, The Lone Woman of San Nicolas, also known as Karana)